Effects and side effects of personal learning environments and personalized learning in formal education

Xiao Shu Xu, Zhiyou Li, Wilson Cheong Hin Hong, Xinyu Xu, Yun Feng Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This review provides a critical assessment of Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) and personalized learning within formal education by juxtaposing their beneficial effects against the potential issues that could impede their effective use. Through meticulous screening and reviewing procedures, 53 articles were thematically analyzed and the main findings were visualized and discussed. The absence of a consistent definition for PLEs emerges as a significant barrier to effective implementation, creating varied expectations among education professionals. Other key challenges include the digital literacy required of educators, the shift towards self-regulated learning frameworks, and the resource constraints that impact equitable access to PLEs. Additionally, the review addresses ethical dilemmas related to data privacy and the limited role of PLEs in cultivating skills beyond academic achievement, such as creativity and communication. The findings are pivotal for educational stakeholders, providing an in-depth view of the complexities associated with PLEs and informing the creation of strategic approaches and policy measures that seek to enhance learning experiences while mitigating foreseeable challenges.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEducation and Information Technologies
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024


  • Effects and side effects
  • Formal education
  • Personal Learning Environment
  • Personalized learning
  • Systematic review


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